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Return-to-Work Partnerships Program

Contact: Amanda Fisher
Department of Labor and Industries
P.O. Box 44324
Olympia, WA 98504-4323
Telephone: 360.902.6153
E-mail: fiam235@lni.wa.gov

State Web site: http://www.lni.wa.gov 

Local Link: http://www.lni.wa.gov/Main/WorkingSolutions/

Who is Served: Industrially Injured workers who need assistance in returning to work. Vocational benefits administered by the Washington State Fund are available to eligible insured workers. Workers covered under self-insured employers may be eligible for the many of the same benefits.

Program Description: This program provides return-to-work assistance for workers with industrial injuries. The Department of Labor and Industries (L&I) uses qualified vocational providers to assist in return to work, assess participants’ ability to work, and, where necessary, develop a rehabilitation plan. For eligible workers with training plans approved July 1, 2017 through June 30, 2018, L&I may pay up to $17,885 for up to two years of retraining, which may be provided through qualified schools or by on-the-job training.

Other Program Characteristics: Reimbursed expenses may include books, tuition, equipment, and child care. Transportation during vocational rehabilitation services is paid separately. Up to $5,000 is provided for job modification for eligible workers.

In addition, eligible employers who provide a medically-approved job to an injured worker may receive financial incentives. The Stay at Work Program reimburses employers for some of their costs when they provide temporary, light-duty jobs for temporarily disabled workers while they heal. The Preferred Worker Program encourages employers to hire workers whose injury permanently prevents them from returning to their job at the time of injury. Qualified employers who hire these workers in a medically-approved, lighter job, are excused from paying the usual premium and receive financial protection against any subsequent injury for a period not to exceed 36 months. The employer may also qualify for partial wage reimbursements, some of the costs of tools, clothing, and equipment the worker needs to do the job, and may be eligible for a bonus for employing the worker at that job for at least 12 months.

Program History: Vocational rehabilitation began officially for workers’ compensation in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The program helps individuals to return to work through return-to-work job placement, assessment, and/or retraining, and by paying financial incentives to qualified employers.

Outcome Measures:

• Number of workers assisted in return to work with their employer.
• Number of preferred workers hired by participating employers.
• Proportion of retraining plans successfully completed.

State Funding: Return-to-work services are funded through premiums collected from employers and employees insured by the Washington State Fund. Retraining fees are paid from the Accident Fund and include tuition, supplies, equipment, books, and travel. Job modification costs are paid from the Second Injury Fund.

Federal Funding: None.

Statutory Authority: State-RCW 51.32. 090, 095, 096, 099, and 250. WAC 296-16, 16A, and 19A. Administered by the Department of Labor and Industries.

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